Gobblegobble Year #3: Peru

by Jane Moneypenny

Bad news: altitude still got me.

Good news: I’m alive and successfully made it to Machu Picchu.

Peru was a whirlwind. It was every emotion possible, just like Kilimanjaro. The hike felt like deja vu most of the time…until the part I actually successfully made it to Machu Picchu! Unlike most people, we took the Salkantay Trail, which was pretty incredible for numerous reasons:

  1. We were the ONLY people on the trail. No other tourists or groups. Just us and some locals.
  2. Hard to easy: the first day was brutal but got easier with each day.
  3. We got to walk through tiny villages and even stay in one.
  4. We rest and ride the bus to MP the fourth morning. Thanks to this, I still have some energy to climb around the ruins.

Day 1 of the hike was brutal; I felt like I was back on Kilimanjaro, dragging my feet with a raging headache. This time, a beautiful horse named Alfredo was along for the ride and gave me and a friend rides the couple moments we were at our worst. Needless to say, the three guy we were with had no problems with altitude or strength and literally ran ahead. We took so long that it was pitch dark our last hour as the rain came down and we sloshed into basecamp.

Salkantay Trail

Day 2 started off badly. 10 hours projected. I couldn’t figure out why I was going SO SLOWLY. I’m couldn’t be that out of shape! I had been training! Day 2 was so much easier than the previous day, but I just couldn’t catch up! After lunch, Alfredo was going to meet up with us and take me but suddenly, I got better. And clarity to why I had been so slow the day before and on Kili: the freaking hiking poles. I ditched them after lunch and I was flying. I would have been even faster if my toes weren’t in so much pain and my right knee screaming at every downhill (apparently, I use the poles in a way that I land too hard on my heel). We stay the night in a tiny village and get to play soccer with the kids the next morning.

Day 3 was a breeze-ish. We took a bus to the power plant, ate lunch and bid farewell to our VERY wonderful chef (he made us a giant cake the night before!). Took a little hike up a small steep hill and then it was completely flat along the railroad tracks until Aguas Calientes, where I proceeded to drag my feet b/c it had been 3.5 hours. Aguas Calientes was a shock to the system. After not seeing tourists for days, we were suddenly surrounded by them.

Day 4: early early morning bus ride to MP! Which was incredible. Perfect weather which made all the hiking around easier. Jenny and I made a half-way attempt up to Waynu Picchu before smartly calling it quits (the guys ran ahead of us). Officially, our time in the books are faster than them. 🙂

All in all, Peru was pretty amazing. I made six new friends (one who I’ll honestly be happy to never see again b/c he was an arrogant nerd that liked to show off his running stamina). The food was just simply delicious; any country that has potatoes as a staple is very okay in my book!

On to the next trip!